Monday, June 29, 2015

My Experience Using Blue Light on my Acne (Before & After Pics)

EDIT (as of August 2016) I would no longer recommend this product - will update with pics soon. The TRIA Blue Light device over-heated my skin and caused discoloration.

I've been dealing with an acne outbreak since last December, and I've been exploring various options to get it under control (full post on this coming soon). My friend Elaine has significantly clearer skin after undergoing Blue Light Therapy at her dermatologist's office. I wanted to see if Blue Light would work for me, but before committing to a long commute and regular appointments with her dermatologist, I decided to explore at-home options. I remembered reading that Tria carries a wide range of at-home professional-grade devices, so I contacted them to find out more about about the Tria Acne Clearing Blue Light. The company generously sent me a device to try out - and after THOROUGHLY testing it for four months, I am finally ready to share my review.

Product Review Tria Blue Light Acne-Clearing Device


This FDA-cleared device uses the same professional-level blue light technology that is found in dermatologists' offices. It emits a non-UV high-energy light to treat mild to moderate acne by eliminiating bacteria deep within the skin. By targeting the P.Acnes bacteria, existing blemishes are healed and future breakouts are prevented. The light only affects the bacteria - so it doesn't cause much skin irritation or dryness (unlike other topical acne treatments). For further reading on the efficacy of Blue Light on Acne - click here.

Using the Tria Blue Light Acne-Clearing Device


I think this is my first no-makeup selfie on this blog- eek! But I wanted to show the Tria in action - isn't the glowing blue light so intense? After washing my face in the morning, I press the flat tip on my skin. The device automatically turns on - it glows blue and feels slightly warm. I glide it across my face, focusing on my problem areas (mainly my cheeks) - continuously "painting" them with the blue light. The machine beeps at 2.5 minutes and turns off at 5 minutes. After my treatment, I spray my face with mineral water and apply my moisturizer.


There's some painful acne in the "before" photos - so I'm going to split this post in case you're squeamish. Click here if you want to see my before and after -->

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

F21 & ZARA Haul, Longer Lashes and Larger Lips

I've been loving the jumpsuits trend - but sadly for me - most jumpsuits are either sleeveless or with shorts. So I was VERY excited to spot this jumpsuit at Forever21 - it has long sleeves and full-length pants but is still light and airy - so much fun for the summer!

Forever21 Belted Abstract Print Jumpsuit
Jumpsuit: F21 / Shoes: Target / Bag: Michael Kors / Necklace: J.Crew

Here are some more of my favorite jumpsuits from Forever21 - they're such a bargain too!

While on the Forever21 website - I checked out their trench coat section. I know it's too warm for trench coats at the moment - but it's hard to find them in stock when you need them, so I was trying to plan ahead. I ended up with 2 trench coats to try (one from F21 and the other from GAP). I didn't LOVE either of them - so I asked for some advice on Instagram.

GAP Forever21 trench coat
Forever 21 trench / GAP trench

Apparently ZARA has amazing trench coats, so I headed over there. And yes - the quality and design of their coats are amazing, but this year's batch is off-white and I want a classic tan one - so the search continues! But I didn't leave ZARA empty-handed - I spotted this faux leather jacket - and while it's slightly edgier than my usual style - it seems like the perfect light layer to wear with jeans or maxi dresses.

ZARA leather jacket
Jacket: ZARA (similar) / Necklace: J.Crew / Shoes: Old Navy

SUMMER STAPLES: Every time I use these beauty products, I keep thinking - I HAVE to share them on my blog - they're THAT amazing.

MAC Lip Pencil in More to Love - I'm always hunting for products to make my lips look bigger - but I didn't realize what a plumping effect this lip pencil would have! I bought it because it's meant to be the perfect liner to wear with Girl About Town lipstick. However, the pigment is so strong that it stains your lip line. So even after I remove my makeup, my lips still look big! This liner is part of the Pro Longwear range- but be warned that not all colors are created equal. I also own Staunchly Stylish but it doesn't have the pigment or lasting power of More to Love.

DIOR Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum - This serum works in two ways. Firstly, it works as a primer - it goes on as a white layer on your lashes, so when you apply your regular mascara - your lashes look thicker and longer. Secondly, it contains ingredients to make your lashes longer and stronger over time. I've found this works amazingly well for both purposes. When I wear it under my mascara - I get lots of compliments on my lashes - and I feel like my lashes are healthier and longer than they've ever been.

VICHY Capital Soleil SPF50 Spray (c/o) - I'm serious about sun protection - and not just for my face. Along with wearing hats and sun-protective clothing, I make sure to cover my body in SPF before spending time in the sun. I love this finely-misted spray because it's so easy to apply. Once I'm dressed, I spray any exposed areas (neck, back of hands, feet), rub it in - and I'm ready to go. It's a dry-touch spray so it absorbs instantly without any slippery-ness. And the spray is so light and focused, it doesn't stain my clothing. And most importantly - with an SPF of 50, I know I have strong coverage!

Jane Iredale Pressed Powder - Now that my skin is clearing up again (acne treatment update post coming soon!) I don't need to wear a full-coverage foundation every day. I've blogged about this a LONG time ago - and I still completely adore and recommend this! Unlike most mineral powders, it's pressed so it's easy to apply. It provides medium coverage - but more importantly - it gives your whole face an airbrushed finish - so even if you do have blemishes, they don't stand out. And the finish only gets better as the day goes on - it still looks glowing and pretty when I go to wash off my makeup at night! This is especially good for reactive skin, as it is such a gentle formula. The only downside is that it's mainly sold in salons - so you have to find one to get color matched (once you know your shade, you can order it online). FYI for anyone who is an NC30-NC35 like me - my perfect shade is Golden Glow - and I'd recommend this brush for applying ANY powder foundations.

Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask - Everyone raves about this GLAM GLOW mask - but when I was looking up reviews on Makeup Alley - I noticed a lot of recommendations for this Origins mask as a more effective and reasonably-priced substitute. I tried the GLAM GLOW mask: firstly - it's CRAZY expensive, and secondly it doesn't produce any dramatic results on me. This mask on the other hand is so therapeutic and clarifying. Even when my skin was raw and broken out, I'd apply this overnight as a spot treatment, and when I'd wash it off in the morning, my spots would be less swollen and not as red. Definitely give it a try if you're looking for a good clay mask!

Are you loving the jumpsuit trend too? Have you tried any of my summer staple products?

P.S. For my Canadian readers - switch to the US F21 webpage to view exact product information (the Canadian F21 site just takes you to the homepage).

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In Pursuit of a Hot Pink Bag

I have a lot of classic bags in my collection - but I was missing one item - a bright pop-of-color bag to brighten up my summer outfits. While either a red or yellow bag would work as a statement bag - I think we all know that I'd end up looking for something hot pink!

Michael Kors Hamilton Tote and Michael Kors Greenwich Satchel
Michael Kors Hamilton Tote and Michael Kors Greenwich Satchel

I thought I had found the perfect pink bag at Michael Kors - the Greenwich is a beautiful raspberry shade. It's made of durable saffiano leather and has a handy cross-body option- plus it was on sale for around $215. After admiring it in store several times, I went ahead and bought it.

Coach Mini-Domed Cora Debossed Satchel in Hot Pink
Shirt: Garage (similar) / Sandals: Payless (similar) / Jeans: GAP

OF COURSE, the weekend after I purchased it - I found the CUTEST hot pink bag EVER at the Coach outlet. The Mini-Domed Cora satchel is everything I could ever want in a hot pink bag - it's tiny yet big enough to fit in my essentials (wallet/phone/keys) and the domed shape is reminiscent of the Louis Vuitton Alma. It was a bargain at $100, and I couldn't leave it behind.

Coach Mini-Domed Cora Debossed Satchel in Hot Pink and Black
Coach Domed Mini Cora Satchel (similar)

And I'm not the only one who fell in love with the Cora bag - I ended up going back and picking up the black version for my mother! But I felt guilty - because as much as I love pink - I knew I only needed ONE hot pink bag!!! Luckily the lovely manager at the Michael Kors store let me exchange my Greenwich bag for the small black Sutton (usually all sale bags are FINAL sale - good to know for the future!).

Michael Kors Black Sutton Small
Shirt: F21 (similar) / Necklace: Aldo (similar) / Bag: Sutton / Pom Pom Charm (option)

I haven't used the Sutton bag too many times yet - but I'll definitely write a bag review for it soon! Isn't it such a cute bag?

Michael Kors Black Sutton Small
Shirt: Old Navy (similar) / Necklace: Joe Fresh (similar) / Shoes: Old Navy / Bag: Sutton / Pom Pom Charm (option)

Here are two of my recent summer outfits:

SheIn White V Neck Short Sleeve Floral Dress
Dress: c/o Shein (similar) / Bag: Minkoff / Shoes: Walmart (similar)

I'm super-crazy for ANY palm-tree prints - I can't get enough!

Palm Print Summer Dress SheIn Green Leaves Print Dress
Dress: c/o SheIn (similar) /Jacket: H&M / Necklace: F21 (similar)

Have you searched high and low for the perfect item - only to find something EVEN better a few days later?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gingham and Roses

I was so excited when I heard that Gingham was one of the big trends for this Spring. I already own checked shirts in pink, lavender, blue and orange - but there's always space in my closet for a little more gingham!

Lou Harvey Rose Print Bag in Alex Sage
Shirt: H&M (similar) / Heels: Old Navy / Clutch: c/o Lou Harvey

I've paired my favorite pink gingham shirt with a gorgeous rose print clutch from Lou Harvey. I first learned about Lou Harvey at The Original Petite Soiree hosted by CocoLily Magazine. As soon as I spotted their booth (pictured below) I was transfixed - such vibrant colors and beautiful prints!

Lou Harvey Rose Print

All their products are made of laminated fabrics which are both waterproof AND machine-washable - so their bags VERY kid-friendly. Not only are Lou Harvey products beautiful - they're also making a difference in the lives of South Africans affected by AIDS and HIV. Lou Harvey's Durban-based factory provides employment and skill training to grandmothers left to care for their orphaned grandchildren.

Lou Harvey Bag in Alex Sage

Their products can serve multiple purposes - my bag (Alex Sage Large Cosmetic) can be used as a clutch, toiletry bag or to organize items within a larger bag. The whole range is crafted from designer, limited edition fabrics - so if there's a print you like - stock up on it before it's gone for good!

Lou Harvey Large Cosmetic Bag in Alex Sage

Lou Harvey have kindly offered to gift a Rose print clutch to one of my Canadian readers. Entering is easy - follow BOTH @ellaprettyblog and @louharveycanada on Instagram, and comment below with your Instagram user name! Contest ends June 26. (PLEASE NOTE - winning clutch will have a rose design but fabric print may be slightly different depending on availability)

UPDATE:  Winner is @Argenplath

And if you're looking for the perfect birthday or baby shower gift - head over to Lou Harvey and use code ELLAPRETTY for 15% off your purchase! (discount code expires on July 8)

DISCLAIMER: Clutch was gifted to me by Lou Harvey.

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Mix & Match Fashion

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Decluttering and Donating this Spring

If you were to ask my family what we want our house to look like, they won't hesitate to say "a hotel". When we're tidying up, we don't just want our space to look good. We want it to look "hotel" good. That's not to say that my house looks anything LIKE a hotel (I wish!), it's just that we all love the peaceful and relaxing feeling that we get when we stay at a hotel.

Photo Credit: Baccarat Hotel

What is it about a hotel that looks so chic and put together? It's not just the's the lack of clutter! You can actually admire the furnishings because they're not hidden under a pile of stuff. But being part of a family of four, our stuff just seems to grow AND grow. There's always a steady stream of things coming in (clothes, books, toys) but hardly anything going out - and more stuff means more mess

This spring, I'm planning on doing some deep-cleaning around the house...and I'm going to be ruthless! For decluttering inspiration, I'll be following William Morris's quote: 

Image Source

The main areas I'll be targeting are: the toy room, my kitchen, the basement and my closet. Follow along on my instagram as I document some of the items I'll be getting rid of. Here are some of the items I've picked:

This Old Navy dress is from my pre-blogging days - I love the unique print of vibrant flowers on a tan background - but the babydoll design just isn't my style anymore.

I bought this pink and maroon plaid bag from River Island back when I was working in England. I remember debating whether I really NEEDED another bag (yes, I've always been a bag-lover) - but in the end I had to give in. Who could resist the little doggie charm hanging off the handle? But it's been years since I've used this bag, so I think it's time to let it go (although I may keep the charm!).

About 6 years ago I went through a "pyrex phase" - I'd search antique markets, thrift stores and eBay looking for colorful bowls. I especially loved pieces from the 60s and 70s: they're so sturdy and functional, and they made my kitchen feel old-fashioned and wholesome. While I'll always treasure some of my finds (like my pretty pink pyrex), I think it's time to let some of my other pieces go. I prefer a more simple color scheme now.

Of course, one man's recycling is another man's treasure, so I plan on being eco-friendly and donating my items to Value Village. I no longer have any use for them, but they may be just the thing someone else is looking for! I'll definitely be #HappyToPassItOn!

Do you have things you used to love but are now ready to pass on?

Value Village is more than your favourite thrift store- they also support nonprofit organizations like Canadian Diabetes Association and Developmental Disabilities Association, among others, in your community. Remember to donate your reusable items to local nonprofits at Value Village!  In addition to supporting the nonprofit, you’ll also be helping planet Earth.  Value Village, Good n’ Thrifty! 

Disclosure:  This post was brought to you by Value Village via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Value Village.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Working with PANDORA Jewelry to Express My Style

When it comes to jewelry, most of my collection falls into two categories: sentimental pieces and statement pieces. My sentimental items are ones that I never take off: each piece is well-loved and has a story behind it, from my pink diamond engagement ring to my grandmother's golden bangle to my car charm PANDORA bracelet. In contrast, my choice of statement jewelry varies day-to-day depending on what I'm wearing and where I'm going. I like to switch out my necklaces, rings and bracelets to add vibrancy and color to my outfits.

I recently got the chance to work with PANDORA on their "Art of You" campaign to showcase how I use jewelry to express myself and add another dimension to my outfits. When it comes to choosing what to wear, I always ask myself, "Is it comfortable?" and, "Is it classic?" Comfort is so important to me: whether I'm running around with my kids or attending blogging events, I want to enjoy myself, not worry about uncomfortable shoes or constricting clothing. And the advantage of having classic pieces in my wardrobe is that I don't have to spend too much time worrying about what to wear.

One of my tried-and-true summer outfits is a draped white shirt paired with faded denim, nautical-stripe tote and metallic heels. It marries classic pieces (draped white shirt and summer bag) with comfort (denim jeans and low-heeled pumps). The extra dimension to this outfit comes in the form of sparkle from my metallic heels and statement jewelry.

Here are the PANDORA items I selected to style with this outfit:
Necklace - Long chain necklaces work well with draped blouses, so I chose the Tropical Palm Necklace ($140). This pendant is super light and has shimmery stones lining the border of the leaf.
Charm Bangle - My favorite item! The bangle ($75) is easy to slip on and off, and the combination of Turquoise Ocean Mosaic Pave beads ($75) with the cute Sparkling Palm Tree Dangling Charm ($50) captures the essence of summer!
Rings - I stacked on a couple of silver eternity rings ($75) - the beaded workmanship on the bands and the sparkling CZ stones are just so pretty. I also added a delicate wrap ring - I think it's meant to be a tiny Swirling Snake ($90)!

This outfit completely captures my personal style, and I loved adding in the PANDORA pieces -they worked perfectly with the "classics + metallics" look I was going for. To adapt this outfit across multiple events, I've also purchased a pair of silver birkenstock-type sandals - for when I need casual shoes but still want to look a bit sparkly!

What is your ultimate summer outfit? And which of these PANDORA pieces is your favorite?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Designed to inspire women to embrace the self-creator within PANDORA is a partner in helping to explore and craft a unique personal story to complement any style, every day.  This is a reflection of PANDORA's mission for more than 30 years – to offer women across the world a beautiful universe of high-quality jewelry products at affordable prices, which combines the modern techniques for high-end jewelry production with centuries-old craftsmanship.  Love, care and attention to detail are bestowed upon each hand-finished piece from start to finish that brings to life the brand's Danish design legacy and artistry while inspiring women to collect, accentuate, layer and showcase their individual style by embracing the Art of You. 

For more information, please visit View and shop the collection at

This post was brought to you by PANDORA Jewelry via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of PANDORA. PANDORA provided jewelry for this post.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Style Your Hair in Beachy Waves for the Summer

I love the look of waved hair, but other than using a curling iron ALL over, I don't know many curling techniques. So I was very excited to take part in the TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)done WavesTM campaign and learn three different ways to style my hair for the summer.

TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)done WavesTM Product Review

One of the most important steps in creating a long-lasting hair style is prepping your hair to HOLD the curls. You want your hair to be sleek and moisturized - but not so heavily weighed down that it doesn't stay curled. I started with the TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)done WavesTM Weightless Silicone-Free Shampoo, which contains Sea Kelp Extract to lift oil and residue from your hair. I then applied TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)done WavesTM Weightless Moisturizing Conditioner to the lower half of my hair, keeping it in for 5 minutes before rinsing. This combination made my hair soft and shiny with lots of volume and body.

Hair Tutorial How to Style Your Hair in Boho Waves

The first hairstyle I tried was the Boho Wave.
  • After stepping out of the shower, I applied TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)Done WavesTM Sea Foam to my damp hair. 
  • I used a hair-dryer to dry my hair, flipping my head over and focusing on my roots for added volume.  
  • I divided my hair into two sections and clipped up the top half while using a curling iron on the bottom half of my hair. 
  • I wrapped my hair vertically around the barrel, alternating the direction of curls (either towards my face or away from my face) as I went along. 
  • When I completed the bottom section, I sprayed it with TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)Done Ultra Brushable Hairspray. 
  • I then unclipped the top section and repeated the same curling process. 
  • Once my top section was curled and sprayed, I ran my fingers through my hair to loosen the curls and give it a more boho vibe.

Hair Tutorial How to Style Your Hair in Hollywood Curls

The second look, the Hollywood Wave, is very old-school and Glam.
  • As before, I started by applying TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)Done WavesTM Sea Foam to damp hair before blow-drying. 
  • I placed velcro rollers along my crown to retain volume in my roots as my hair cooled down. 
  • Once my hair was dry, I parted it to the side and used my curling iron to create loose curls all around. 
  • Since I was going for a smoother look this time, I made sure to curl in one direction - away from my face. 
  • I sprayed it with TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)Done Ultra Brushable Hairspray and waited for my hair to cool down while I finished applying my makeup. 
  • I then took a wide-toothed comb and gently brushed out my curls into loose waves. I also lightly teased my bangs for some added volume.

Hair Tutorial How to Style Your Hair in Beachy Waves

The third look, the Beach Wave, was the easiest to do.
  • After washing my hair, I sprayed TRESemmé Perfectly (Un)done WavesTM Sea Salt Spray through my hair and let it air dry. 
  • I lightly curled random sections of hair with a curling iron, and french-braided my bangs and I was DONE! 
  • I've also tried this style without using ANY heat at all - I apply the Sea Salt spray and air-dry my hair and put it in a loose bun on top of my head overnight. 
  • The next morning I have piece-y loose waves that I LOVE (very Gossip Girl/Blake Lively type curls!). It's so AMAZING to give my hair a break from heat-styling and still have nicely styled hair!

I loved using these products  - as someone with hair that is straight with fine strands, my hair often struggles to hold a curl. I feel like the shampoo and conditioner are a key step in changing the texture of my hair - I can't believe how curly my hair can get after using these two products in the shower and finishing with the Sea Foam! And the Sea Salt Spray is perfect for those days I don't have time to style my hair - but I still want a fun and voluminous look. These products are definitely a game-changer, and I've already convinced my sister and friends to give these a try. They're easily found, inexpensive, and make a significant difference to my hair!

Which of these hairstyles is your fave? 

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Achieve the beautiful wavy styles you love! The new TRESemmé Perfectly (un)Done WavesTM collection with Sea Kelp extract, infuses hair with texture for natural looking waves for an all over gorgeously (un)done wavy look.  Achieve effortless, natural looking Beach, Boho and Hollywood waves that last all day!  Discover the entire Perfectly (un)Done WavesTM collection at

This post was brought to you by TRESemmé via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of TRESemmé.


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